Dr Delphine Autheman

Postdoctoral Fellow

Delphine is a Postdoctoral Fellow working on animal African trypanosome cell-surface proteins to identify new vaccine targets, with a special interest for Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma vivax.

African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic infection caused by flagellated extracellular parasites that survive in the tissue fluids and the bloodstream, affecting both humans and animals. The animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT) – also called Nagana – is caused by the tsetse-fly-transmitted parasites Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma vivax and to a lesser extent Trypanosoma brucei brucei. All these parasites have a wide host range, which includes most economically important livestock species such as cattle and goat, causing estimated losses of over US $1,300 million per year in resource-poor settings. As no anti-AAT vaccine is available, control of the disease relies essentially on chemotherapy/chemoprophylaxis treatments and vector control.

These approaches have inherent limitations such as drug resistance and a prohibitively high cost to resource-poor farmers. Thus, the development of an efficient anti-AAT vaccine for livestock remains essential to fight the disease in endemic areas.

To address this issue, a new vaccine developmental strategy will be used to target cell-surface proteins for the two main species which cause AAT, T. congolense and T. vivax. A library of functional recombinant secreted and cell-surface proteins for both parasites will be created using a mammalian expression system, and then systematically screened to evaluate their potential antigenic activities. The selection of the T. congolense and T. vivax cell-surface proteins in the libraries will be done with a genomic-driven approach, including RNA sequencing.

 

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